The Cosmos loved the artificial turf field at Mitchel Atheltic Complex stadium, but not so much the lines and numbers on it. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Now, here’s something a bit ironic for the Cosmos:
For the past week or so they have trained on the new artificial turf at Mitchel Athletic Complex stadium field while their adjacent field is growing grass.
MAC once was a remote possibility for the Cosmos to play this North American Soccer League season after Hofstra University told the club it would not be welcomed back for 2017. Instead, the team chose MCU Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, N.Y. to call home
While the new turf at the Nassau County affiliated facility — it is supplied by A-Turf of Williamsville, N.Y. — is fairly new, it has not yet been pounded into the ground. So there certainly is a different feel to it that older artificial fields.
In fact, the Cosmos gave it a thumb’s up, which could be a rare reaction to artificial turf these days.
“Usually I have to say the players don’t like to play on turf,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “That’s why we have our grass field. We decided to make sure. Usually players complain about their back, their knees. Once we came here the guys have been very content because this turf is one of the better turfs that I’ve seen. So far it has been a good feeling for all of the players to be able to train here.”
So, we asked the players about it.
First, El Salvadoran captain and Cosmos midfielder Andres Flores.
“Actually, it’s very good,” he said. “We were talking about that few days ago. It’s very good. It’s new. It feels very comfortable, the turf and everything. We’re taking advantage of that. We’re trying to enjoy that because we didn’t have the opportunity to have good turf like before.”
Ditto for team captain and center back Carlos Mendes.
“I think they did a nice little job,” he said. Obviously, the turf is still settling. It plays well; definitely a lot softer on the body than the previous turf. It’s always nice to get on a new turf like that. For us, it’s a been good experience. It’s a nice field. The ball moves well. No complaining.”
If the Cosmos ever wanted to play at Mitchel, it would have to contend with the many lines for various sports, including the dominant football lines and yard markers.
“I think the problem here is just the lines,” Savarese said. “There are too many lines. So, we would have avoided everything possible to have played in this stadium even though it has a lot of good memories for me back in the Rough Rider days when it was grass.”
That was during the 1994 and 1995 U.S. International Soccer League seasons. The Rough Riders captured the 1995 crown as Savarese, who finished the season with a league-best 33 goals, connected for the game-winner in the championship game with six seconds remaining.
Savarese left the Rough Riders in 1996 to join Major League Soccer and the MetroStars.
“If this decent surface didn’t have so many lines, this is a field that you can definitely play here,” he said. “For us last year, it was different because we had Hofstra. We could go there, we could train there. Now the situation is different. In our stadium [MCU Park] right now, we have the different turf that is used, but we don’t have the fortune to train as much.”